I met with an orthopedic surgeon to see if there was any new technology in the medical world that could repair the career ending knee injury I suffered about 12 years ago. After examining my knee, the doctor said, “I’m sorry, there is nothing anyone can do to help your knee. The best thing you can do is be strong and flexible.” Ever since, Strong and Flexible has been my battle cry and I have done and continue to do everything possible to strengthen, lengthen and increase the mobility not only of my injured knee, but of all the muscles in my body. Biking, balance training, yoga, stretching, toning and more are a consistent part of my stay healthy routine.
However, for some reason, the doctor’s quote about being “strong and flexible” continues to intrigue me. The words seem to contradict each other in my mind. I keep thinking that “Strong” represents not budging, determination, stubbornness while “Flexible” represents fluidity, movement, yielding. How can one person embody such extremes? The question gets even more complicated for me when I think about finding balance in my life. I find it extremely challenging to balance all my responsibilities in life. Some days I feel pulled in so many different directions that I don’t even know where to start, let alone if I need to to utilize my “Strength” or my “Flexibility.”
Most recently, I have tried to unify these qualities in my life by identifying which areas require strength and which areas require flexibility. I am better able to channel my limited resources when I carefully assess each area of my life to figure out if “strength” or “flexibility” is needed in that particular area. What I realized is that when I apply the right formula of strength vs flexibility, what I am left with is the opportunity to be more flexible/strong in areas that once eluded me. To demonstrate, I have chose three areas of my life that I felt needed the most balancing which are family, work and health.
Thank God we are expecting our 5th child any day now – not including our very cute but very needy dog 🙂
Each child is a world of their own and attending to all their needs sometimes feels impossible. Therefore, I try to put all my “Strength” into adhering to two rules. I try my best, when possible, to be home for good by 4:00 pm ever weeknight. I also try to prepare the house for Shabbat on Thursday instead of Friday.
Implementing these two changes with resolve has allowed me to be, in turn, more “Flexible.” I am more present and able to help with the daily marathon of afternoon activities, homework, bedtime. And, I enter into Shabbat more peacefully, promoting a more enjoyable and less stressed atmosphere for the whole family. I understand “my rules” are not possible or right for everyone, but in my life, prioritizing my time this way has been a great investment.
I love my work. I try to only take on projects that I believe in and that are meaningful to me. Once I take on a project, however, I use all my “Strength” to try and do the best job that I can. I give it my all. I apply my “Flexibility” to when unforeseen or challenging business issues arise. I try to handle them with pliancy and softness so that they will have the least amount off negative effect on me.
I wake up each day at 4:15 am to work out. I use my “Strength” to get out of bed and complete an intense workout while it is still dark outside. I deliberately (some would say, stubbornly) do not own a car. I ride my bike everywhere. When I am adamant about making sure that I feel good physically, I am able to be more “Flexible” with others. I am more patient and kind, I do not get offended by negativity, I can access and project more faith, optimism, empathy and compassion. I am an all together better version of myself.
Life, as we all know, is a constant balancing act. And what worked yesterday may not work today or tomorrow. However, I have learned that when “strength” and “flexibility” are used complementary, rather that in opposition, it is easier to find the balance I need. So, although the doctor could not fix my knee, his words have helped bring healing to my life on a different level.